By Mancielito S. Tacadena
Photo by Danta Tacata
Farmers can have their native cattle, carabao or goat inseminated at the demofarm. All that is required of them is to carry several kilos of grass (20 kilos for a small ruminant and 100 kilos for the large one) as their food supply while they are inseminated in the demofarm.
An additional feature of the demofarm is the preservation of native pigs. A communal pig pen was put up where eight gilts and one boar were initially raised. In three years time, their numbers multiplied to almost 400 after which they were sold with the profits put into the revolving fund of the demofarm.
According to the farm manager, it is much cheaper to raise native pigs than new breeds because the former are fed with grass, leafy vegetables and banana trunk. The meat is healthful since it is raised organically. One thing more, their den is almost odorless as compared with those that house pigs fed with commercial feeds.
Native horses are also maintained and produced here to address their dwindling numbers over the years. Most of the more than ten female horses that roam in one area of the demofarm are now pregnant. Native horses are more commonly used to pull the kalesa, a local means of transportation during the Spanish time.
Poultry raising is another aspect in the BaRang-ay demofarm in line with the chick dispersal project of the provincial government. The demofarm devised a scheme wherein the project becomes not only a means of livelihood to the farmer-beneficiaries but also to eradicate malnutrition in the countryside. Here, the demofarm distributes one hundred chicks to be raised by an organization or association. When they weigh at least two kilos, the organization is obligated to return eight to the demofarm after which the latter will again release another 100 chicks to the group.
Aside from chicken, the demofarm also raises Peking ducks, turkeys and geese as these poultry animals are an excellent source of livelihood and additional income for the farmers.
To maintain the demofarm’s animal division, about six tons of grass are needed everyday. The demofarm however can not meet the daily requirement due to its limited area and insufficiency of water supply. To solve this problem, the manager of the demofarm made an agreement with some farmers to plant napier grass and sweet sorghum outside the farm.
The provincial officials also observed that in recent years, few students are enrolling in agriculture-related courses despite a declaration of the National Economic and Development Authority that the agriculture sector is the backbone of economy in Northern Luzon as most of the workforce here is employed in agriculture. To encourage more students to shift to agriculture, the Ilocos Sur Community College School of Agriculture in BaRang-ay demofarm was formally opened on June 21, 2011. A ladderized course in agriculture is offered where a student receives his Certificate in Animal Production on his first year, Certificate in Horticulture in the second year and a diploma in Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Major in Animal Production upon completion of the four year course. The course was conceptualized by the provincial government in partnership with the Technical Education Vocational Development Authority which provided the Certificate of Program Registration for Animal Production NC II course.
All the students enrolled in this course are provided with free tuition fee by the provincial government. As their support, the Department of Agriculture and TESDA also provide additional scholarships.
Deserving students at the demofarm campus are given a cattle to raise with a 50-50 sharing on the profit. Others are given a pair of Peking duck to raise. These strategies give the students a hands-on in animal raising that enhances their skills in line with their course.
Indeed, the BaRang-ay Demofarm located at Brgy. Labnig, San Juan, Ilocos Sur is the provincial government’s approach to change the lives of farmers, from mere farmer-producers to farmer-businessmen. The BaRang-ay demofarm is truly a show window of excellent agricultural practices in the province.#